We stopped by at Sikandra in the outskirts of Agra very early in the morning on our way to Mathura. I had planned it as a brief visit but the early morning calm, the dancing peacocks, chirping birds and squirrels made it very difficult to leave. After the grandeur of The Taj Mahal, this may appear to be quite spartan to most people but to the discerning eye, this mausoleum was definitely a huge inspiration for the design of Taj Mahal.
Jahangir built the mausoleum between 1605 -1613 AD in a sprawling garden of 119 acres which was specially selected by Akbar as his final resting place. The entry is through the South Gate which is an ornate red sandstone structure topped by 4 marble minarets. The rich inlay work is a combination of floral and geometric patterns which denotes a mix of Central Asian and Indian designs.
From a distance it appeared like a painting but on closure look they were skilfully arranged pieces of slate, yellow Jaisalmer stone,marble and green tinged granite. The structure has an uncanny resemblance with the Charminar of Hyderabad which was constructed during contemporary times (1591AD) except that the material used was different.
The roof had intricate filigree styled floral patterns in varied shades of blue and golden which seemed to have seen better days. Apparently, there was gold inlay work which was plundered more than a century later by a Jat ruler.
A dimly lit narrow passageway led to a hall where the emperor was laid to rest. It was simple and spartan, the only striking thing was that it was on the same straight axis right to the main gate. Visitors could walk straight into his mausoleum to pay their respects without hindrances like the way he listened to his subjects during his life time in Diwan i Aam.
I walked around in slow measured steps marveling at the structure from all angles. The thought crossed my mind whether one of the greatest Emperors in the history of India actually underwent a spiritual transformation in his last days to have decided to rest in peace within the confines of simplicity. I asked myself whether Jahangir obliged to his father’s wishes of using Red Sandstone and keeping it simple but as a son he paid his tribute using marble.
Travel Tip: Located about 8 kms outside Agra on Mathura Rd, best accessed by a hired vehicle. Entry free Rs 20 for Indian tourists.